A leaked audio recording of Mark Zuckerberg reveals that the Facebook founder and CEO fears US presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren is an “existential” threat to his company.
The audio, obtained by tech news site The Verge, also reveals that Zuckerberg thinks that rival said Twitter can’t deal with election interference, and expressed confidence about the social network’s legal battles.
The audio comes from Facebook company meetings from July, where Zuckerberg spoke to his employees about the many issues the social media giant is facing.
He said that the push among Democrats like Warren to break up big tech companies would “suck” for Facebook, but that it would eventually emerge victorious from any legal battles.
“So there might be a political movement where people are angry at the tech companies or are worried about concentration or worried about different issues and worried that they’re not being handled well. That doesn’t mean that, even if there’s anger and that you have someone like Elizabeth Warren who thinks that the right answer is to break up the companies,” Zuckerberg said. “I mean, if she gets elected president, then I would bet that we will have a legal challenge, and I would bet that we will win the legal challenge.”
“And does that still suck for us?,” he continues. “Yeah. I mean, I don’t want to have a major lawsuit against our own government. I mean, that’s not the position that you want to be in when you’re, you know, I mean … it’s like, we care about our country and want to work with our government and do good things. But look, at the end of the day, if someone’s going to try to threaten something that existential, you go to the mat and you fight.”
Warren tweeted a direct response to Zuckerberg’s comments in a tweet:
What would really “suck” is if we don’t fix a corrupt system that lets giant companies like Facebook engage in illegal anticompetitive practices, stomp on consumer privacy rights, and repeatedly fumble their responsibility to protect our democracy. https://t.co/rI0v55KKAi
— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) October 1, 2019
Facebook’s founder also talked candidly about competing with rivals Twitter and TikTok, and the difficulties facing its crypto-currency Libra.
Mark Zuckerberg later confirmed on Facebook that the audio was genuine.
According to a transcript of the recording, Zuckerberg admitted to being concerned about an attempt to break up the firm.
“I don’t want to have a major lawsuit against our own government… But look, at the end of the day, if someone’s going to try to threaten something that existential, you go to the mat and you fight,” he said in the recording.
“It doesn’t make election interference less likely. It makes it more likely because now the companies can’t co-ordinate and work together,” he added.
Zuckerberg also discussed the reason why he declined to attend some political hearings around the world in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica data scandal. He repeatedly refused to attend meetings with politicians in the UK, sending other Facebook representatives in his place.
“I did hearings in the US. I did hearings in the EU,” he said.
“It just doesn’t really make sense for me to go to hearings in every single country that wants to have me show up and, frankly, doesn’t have jurisdiction to demand that.”
With regard to Twitter, Zuckerberg joked that Facebook’s investment on safety was “bigger than the whole revenue of their company”.
And on TikTok, he discussed Facebook’s rival product Lasso, a video-sharing platform which he said was “trying to get product-market fit in countries like Mexico… countries where TikTok is not already big”.
You can listen to the audio here: